The days of console exclusives are officially over, with Final Fantasy now making the trek to the Xbox 360 in Japan.
There was once a time in the videogame industry where certain third-party videogame series would only be released for a single manufacturer's console, such as when Final Fantasy was once exclusive to Nintendo and later Sony. With the just announced version of Final Fantasy XIII coming to the Xbox 360 in Japan, those days have officially been buried.
Even though Final Fantasy XIII was a natural to be brought to the Xbox 360 in North America, where the system is more popular than its Sony rival, Square Enix said it'd be a PlayStation 3 exclusive in Japan, where Sony holds the cards over Microsoft. However, Square Enix recently announced Final Fantasy XIII: Ultimate Hits International for the Xbox 360, a "bargain-priced" version of the game that appears to be making an attempt to get owners of the PS3 version to buy it again with bonus content.
FFXIII: Ultimate Hits International will come on three discs like the Xbox 360 version released in other regions, and will feature English voices and subtitles in multiple languages. The theme song will also be the West's version of Leona Lewis's "My Hands" to differentiate it from the PlayStation 3 version. Ultimate Hits is Square Enix's budget line, with FFXIII: UHI priced ¥4,980 ($59) at launch. This is a normal price for North American audiences, though as a comparison the PlayStation 3 version launched at ¥9,240 ($110) in Japan.
FFXIII: UHI will come with Xbox 360-exclusive content, including a new "Easy Mode" that will reduce the game's difficulty for players that basically just want to experience the game's mass of cutscenes. The first print run will also include a booklet called the "Final Fantasy XIII Corridor of Memory" that will contain an art collection, a look at unused event scenes (such as one where Snow uses the toilet deemed not "serious" enough), and a short story about what happens to the game's crew after the ending called FFXIII: Episode i.
Square Enix producer Yoshinori Kitase explained that he wanted to make sure the game could be played by all Japanese gamers, including those that might only own the Xbox 360. In addition, he says the new slimline 360 made releasing FFXIII on the system more attractive. With the traditionally console-exclusive title now swimming across the console pond even in its home country of Japan, it's safe to say that nothing, aside from perhaps Metal Gear Solid 4 which is still sticking to its PS3 guns, will definitely remain exclusive anymore.